BATTLE CREEK — A grant fund started in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has expanded to $600,000 and will cover more businesses in the Battle Creek area.
Battle Creek Unlimited created the COVID-19 Emergency Microgrant Fund last month for small businesses and nonprofits affected by widespread closures because of COVID-19. After receiving $250,000 in initial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an additional $350,000 has come from the Consumers Energy Foundation, Battle Creek Unlimited and the Kellogg Foundation.
The first round of funding anticipated 35-50 awards, although the program received 127 applications requesting more than $1.8 million, said Battle Creek Unlimited President and CEO Joe Sobieralski. The additional funding will support 65 to 85 additional businesses in the Battle Creek area.
The second round of applications are due by May 11. The program was expanded to include companies and nonprofits in Battle Creek and Springfield and Emmett, Bedford and Pennfield townships. The funds can be used for payroll, accounts payable, rent and other bills. The grants are not intended to replace lost sales, profits or business expansions, according to Battle Creek Unlimited.
To qualify, applicants should have fewer than 15 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. The maximum award in round two will be $5,000, while companies who unsuccessfully applied in the first round can reapply.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and have been significantly impacted during this unprecedented time,” Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation, said in a statement. “Consumers Energy is committed to helping Michigan’s small business community succeed now, more than ever. We are making an investment in our communities, business owners, workers and their families, and a commitment to help power through together.”
The Consumers Energy Foundation is donating $1.8 million to nine organizations that support small businesses across the state, focusing specifically on woman- and minority-owned businesses. Earlier today it announced $200,000 for the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation’s Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund and $200,000 for Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s One&All inclusive entrepreneurship program.